Sunday, September 28, 2014
“[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” ― Jim Henson, It's Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
I enjoy writing about education and learning and teaching. I like to share personal anecdotes with all of you, my readers, in the hopes that you will be able to glean a modicum of learning from my experiences. Sometimes teachers must deal with situations for which they have not been trained. My best advice is to do what is best for the students, and you will not be wrong.
Many years ago, I had a fun and lively English II class of 28 students that was one of my favorite classes. Sadly, 7 students in that same class lost a parent during the school year. Some passed from cancer, one was in an auto accident, one had huge health issues. Each time a death occurred, I bought a sympathy card for everyone in the class to sign. We discussed the importance of showing respect for the deceased while supporting the survivors. Because this happened so many times, class discussions about sympathy and empathy were frequent, teary-eyed, and sincere. Clearly, the 7 students who suffered losses were hurting, and their classmates were feeling their pain as well. The subject of handling parent deaths never came up in college (7 in the same class in a single school year!), so I followed my instinct to do what was best for both the individuals and the class as a whole. The students became very close, and my classroom became a safe place at school where students could grieve with no fear of judgment. I believe everyone in that class learned the true meaning of the word empathy.
I am working with a young man right now who lost his father a few months ago in a tragic accident. This young man knew my late husband and we have discussed my profound sadness about Scott's death on more than one occasion. A few days ago this young man shared with me that he had a really bad day. I nodded my head in understanding and then responded that sometimes bad days happen, and that it is all a part of the process. He looked at me and said "I appreciate you so much. I can just tell you things and you know just what I am feeling. I never have to try to explain." I said the words that I thought were right for him to hear, and they were the right words. .
In your teaching career, many crazy situations will occur, and you will have no idea how to react. Just remember to do what is best for the STUDENT and your judgment should be correct.
Rittman Publishing, LLC
My new website for STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER is up and running. Check it out at www.dederittman.com